Welcome back. This week business has taken me to the most southern metropolitan city in Texas and beyond. Home to numerous units of the armed forces, there’s a real operating fort, one of America’s largest air force bases and several large outposts they call camps. The Payaya Indians who originally settled this remote area called the place “Yanaquana” which translates as “Refreshing Waters.”
In 1691 Spanish explorers came through the area and started a settlement. 1709 brought missionaries and in 1718 the first of several mission buildings was completed utilizing the indigenous Payaya labor for the construction as well as for the construction of several bridges.
One mission in particular would become quite famous, de San Antonio de Valero or as most people know it, the Alamo. On February 23, 1836 Mexican General Martin Perfecto de Cos Santa Ana surrounded the mission killing all the people inside who were fighting for Texas to become an independent state. “Remember the Alamo” became a rallying cry for independence and the rest is history. 1845 brought this community and the rest of Texas under the umbrella of the U.S. government leading to a brief war with Mexico followed by the Civil War.
Yanaquana was growing as the cattle industry led to development and, arts and culture came to town. A New York City writer published a book about the area in 1859 and in 1877 the railroad came in making the community accessible to visitors. It was a city on the move as street cars, new buildings and roadways and cultural centers were established. Nowadays the city has well over a million residents and ranks as the 38th largest in the United States.
In addition to the Alamo and several other historic missions, Sea World and Six Flags Fiesta Theme Park also call this city home. According to the Convention and Visitors Bureau twenty-five million come to town every year, many of them to watch the five time NBA champion team play and to see one of the world’s largest stock shows and rodeos. As you can imagine the hotel business is booming.
Here’s a little info I founding interesting for visitors:
Admission to the Alamo is free and it is open every day except Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Located on 4.2 acres it’s easy to get to and has plenty of on-site parking. The Alamo is considered to be consecrated ground so no hats can be worn inside and photography is not allowed. No cell phones, pets or unruly behavior will be tolerated. There are a few more rules of reverence that should be common knowledge in what local residents consider to be a true shrine.
The deaths of James Bowie, Davy Crockett and mission commander William B. Travis on the morning of March 6, 1836 are a moment in American history that will never be forgotten and is alive and well in the center of this unique city.
Not far from the downtown district Yanaquana also has a zoo, a real Japanese tea garden, a theater and several beautiful parks. The old Fairmont Hotel which was built in 1906 is very cool and then there’s the famous River Walk which meanders through town and is lined with restaurants, bars and shops. The Payayna Indians had it right when they called this place Refreshing Waters but of course today we call it San Antonio. If you’ve never been put this place on your to do list. Still in southwest Texas, till next week I’ll see ya down the road….